I use to be an awful sleeper. Some nights mornings I’d drink caffeine before going to bed. I’d work or play the latest computer game through the night and hit the sack when normal people were getting up for work.
I’d sleep good for a week, but then it came to Friday or Saturday nights. I’d arrive home from a club such as The Family at 7am then sleep to 4pm and make my body’s natural rhythms out of whack again.
Not only was I sleeping at times suitable for the other side of the world, but when my huge body hit the bed it’d take an hour to get to sleep.
How to Change Your Sleep Patterns for Good
I tried really hard to normalize my sleep patterns throughout the week, but I’d have one “bad night” where I’d sleep in after a crazy night out to destroy that week’s hard efforts. It’s like an alcoholic having a drink after abstinence – I felt one wrong move put me back to square one. A late night or a bad night’s sleep after two weeks of following the perfect sleep routine removed whatever habits were trying to be installed.
One study kind of contradicts this. Habitual behavior expert Phillippa Lally from University College London published a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology that looked at how long it takes to form a habit – the stage at which behavior doesn’t require self-control.
Lally found the more consistent you practice a soon-to-be habit at its early stage of development, the quicker you develop the habit. Though the amount of time it takes to develop a habit varies, the study found it took an average of 66 days to form a habit, which contradicts the common myth of 21 days. Lally says missing a single day didn’t diminish the chances of the new habit.
These findings cannot directly be applied to sleeping, however. If you miss a single day of practicing your good sleeping habits with a sleep-in, for example, the effect doesn’t stop at that day. It becomes difficult to sleep how you want the following day because one night’s sleep affects the next night; it isn’t like trying to build a habit of eating fruit each morning where one missed single day doesn’t influence the next.
Be brutal with your sleep patterns until the initial tough-it-out period is behind you. Don’t make any exceptions otherwise you’ll find yourself stuck in your old, energy-sucking sleep routine. It took me four years of waking up at a time in Australia when most Americans rose to figure this out.
The Greatest Secret of a Good Night’s Sleep and the Cure for Insomnia
The most important lesson you can take from this article is to wake up at the same time Monday to Sunday. Get out of bed the same time each day even if you have a great social life.
I’ll admit I don’t always rise from the depths of my bed the same time each day, but I have a solid understanding of how much sleep I need to get through the day with good energy. If you have good body awareness and go to bed at five in the morning, usually you can set an alarm at nine, for example, even if your usual wake up time is seven o’clock.
If your sleep patterns aren’t ideal, however, it’s vital you wake up at the same time regardless of how much sleep you got the previous day. When you’re changing your sleeping habits, don’t mess with your wake up time. This is the key secret to cure insomnia.
13 Tips for a Great Night’s Sleep
With the principles I’ve shared up to this point as foundations for a great night’s sleep, here are thirteen additional tips to cure many sleep problems and help you quickly fall asleep – no need to count sheep:
- Exercise for 30 minutes a day. You must spend energy to receive energy. I don’t care how tired you feel – you must exercise. People who exercise have better body temperature cycles suitable for quality sleep and are more energetic. If you don’t exercise at all, you’ll feel sluggish throughout the day because your body temperature remains stagnant. Don’t exercise too late in the day, however, otherwise you’re body temperature will be too high for good sleep.
- Get 15 minutes of sunlight a day. If you struggle to rack up a few minutes in the sun each day, you’re not sleeping as well as you could be. Your internal body clock uses sunlight to control its energy levels. Light makes you awake while darkness releases melatonin to make you sleepy. Get outside and at least open your curtains to absorb some light for better sleep.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol six hours before bedtime. I use to think a cup of coffee two hours before bedtime didn’t keep me awake – actually, I thought it helped me get to sleep from the energy crash and it did. However, these drinks disrupt later sleep cycles so you’ll get poor sleep.
- Quit smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant. Also, smokers can experience nicotine withdrawal during the night that disrupts sleep. Your body will thank you in more ways than better sleep once you quit sucking down that crap. I’ve never been a smoker, but Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking seems to be a miracle book for many smokers.
- Stay away from television and computer games before bedtime. I’ve found I won’t sleep no matter how tired I am until one hour has passed since playing a computer game or watching television.
- Don’t take sleeping pills. I’m not a doctor so you should consult with a doctor before following the advice in this article. If you want to be scared from taking sleeping pills ever again, read about the dark side of sleeping pills.
- Get a nice bed. You spend one-third of your time in bed so make yourself comfortable. Make sure you have plenty of room to stretch out even if you’re huge like me!
- Eliminate sensory input. Make your bedroom as dark as possible and get outside noises to a minimum. A towel under a door helps with both. I’ve found a sleeping mask to be a miracle for light rooms and improving the quality of my sleep – just be aware you could sleep more than usual because natural sunlight won’t get into your eyes.
- Make your room a good temperature with ventilation. If you’re in a hot room with bad ventilation, expect bad sleep. You won’t fall asleep when you’re hot unless you’re really tired. The body best falls asleep often in cooler temperatures. Open your windows if you can to let in cool air. If you get cold, put on more blankets. Fresh oxygen is vital for good sleep. Experiment with the room temperature best for you. A thermostat to measure your ideal room temperate and a fan to cool you down and ventilate the room will improve your sleep and give you more energy.
- Checkout the End Tiredness Program. In it you discover how to manage jet lag, shift work, and eliminate tiredness. You can learn about it here.
- Find your sleeping personality. I’m a fetus on my right side! I’ve noticed that 95% of the time I won’t fall asleep until I’m in that position, which feels the most comfortable.
- Build a relaxing sleep routine. Try yoga, reading, or visualizations, for example, to see what relaxation techniques you like. Do these consistently before going to bed and you’ll notice you fall asleep without worry-filled thoughts clogging your mind.
- Change what isn’t working. If you lay in bed for 20 minutes and do not feel sleepy maybe because your mind is rushing, do something else. Things that have worked for me include eating a light meal because a hungry stomach can keep me awake, drinking water, visualizations like tensing then releasing all the muscles in my body from head to toe, reading, or doing some non-stimulating activity until I feel tired.
Follow this advice and you’ll wake up refreshed with heaps of energy ready to create the reality you desire!
If you have any tips that help you sleep better, share them in the comments below.